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Warning

A professional image: is your website letting you down?

Website constructionMost of us, searching for customers and trying to make a great first impression, pay a lot of attention to our ‘front of house’, whatever that might mean in our particular enterprise. It might mean spotless cutlery, bright uniforms, polished floors, or friendly greetings.

But our real ‘front of house’ is a place we seldom visit, although it’s where most of our customers find us and make up their minds about us. It is, of course, our website.

Professional writers know they need an editor to look over their shoulder and check their work. Unfortunately, most of what gets posted to the Internet has no such intervention. Often written in a hurry by part-time writers, what finds its way onto our front pages, giving customers and clients their first view of our business, is not always the professional image we would like to convey. Consider the following examples.

The first few are from a particularly badly written website. It is a training company that claims its product will transform our ability to communicate. These are from a single webpage of six brief paragraphs.

‘It also provides a framework for understanding and relating others.’
‘After leaving journalism, (the presenter) become Successful in property investments.’
‘There is no platform where people can learn, how we communication.’ (It seems not.)

And, explaining how our inability to communicate affects us:

‘Executives where burning out….’
‘People where broken….’

One has to hope that ‘where’ was a spelling mistake rather than ignorance. And finally:

‘… looking back the cost will be insignificance, compared to how much you have benefited.’

Apart from the fact that ‘compared with’ is the preferred term, what is not ‘insignificance’ is that the website has failed to generate confidence in the organisation’s product.

Personally, I am put off by the sloppy approach to something that is critical for their business. My thinking is, if you don’t care about your business, why should I trust you with mine? Is that harsh? Maybe, but I’m a customer, and customers get to choose where to spend their money. And they don’t have to explain their actions.

A website advertising an Employee Engagement Master Class says that employers ‘need to better engaged employees in younger generations now.’

How can we hope to engage employees if we cannot communicate our message effectively?

And, in the season of love, this clanger came via email from a franchised eatery:

‘At only R119-95 you now have no excuse to spoil that someone special this Valentines Day.’

Even ignoring the missing apostrophe in Valentine’s Day, I am devastated.  I thought they were giving me an excuse to spoil my valentine. But apparently I have no excuse to do so. Why? Are their prices too high?

What is your website saying about you? Allow me to suggest three things you can do to improve your image.

Read your website.
If you don’t have time to do it yourself, ensure that someone apart from the original writer reads your website regularly. Are you on your own, writing all the content yourself? Ask someone — your spouse, your mother? — or call Simply Communicate if you like. Be sure to try all the links and buttons, too. Are they working?

Ask a professional
When you are doing a major revamp, or putting a new website or marketing package together, get a professional to edit it for you. Don’t leave it to the copy writer, whether internal or external. Suing them for bad work afterwards will be too late for your ruined image.

Check the message
Make sure that all communication, whether placed on your website, sent via email or written on a poster, communicates not only its own message but something about the competence and professionalism of your company as well. Check it carefully and slowly.

While Simply Communicate can help you, this isn’t about what we can do; it’s about what you need to do for your business. Take control of your ‘front of house’ today.

Have you any examples of unintended messages? Add a comment below.

 

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Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

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